Cathy Colman – Body Politics

Profile Cathy Colman Live Encounters Magazine July 2017

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Body Politics, poems by Cathy Colman from her new manuscript – “Theory of Incompleteness”.

Cathy Colman’s first poetry collection, Borrowed Dress, won The Felix Pollak Award from the University of Wisconsin and was on The Los Angeles Times Bestseller list. Her second book Beauty’s Tattoo was published by Tebot Bach. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, The Colorado Review, The Journal, The Huffington Post, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere.

Body Politics

“Perspective is as accidental a thing as lightning.”
–Jacques Rivière, 1912

And If you think about it, the word free conjures voting and animals leaping back to the wild and here, I put my head on your shoulder in the 1950’s even before I was born and it’s still there watching Rebel Without A Cause but we have a cause to be hyper-aware, so if you’re reading this, it’s too late because the Fair is closed and the unfair is open, the whole country on fire with uncivil rites, and if you think about it, the word free conjures voting and animals leaping back to the wild, and not just chickens but couches on the curb and fighters and everyone doing a shaky dance with congas and even snakes fleeing from their charmers and if he says he’s a woman, he’s a woman and I’m a man, and if I say I’m a man, then he’s still a woman, so bake the wedding cake with a lucky coin inside, drown the hall in purple hydrangeas until we will eat, drink, and pass up the sale that says Everything Must Go because scientists have taken the first ever photograph of light as both a wave and a particle which explains so much about swimming and kissing and that old electricity that ignited between us when you passed the beer when our fingers got entangled forever, and all I can do is go to sleep to trucks striking their tires on the curb that sounds like the percussion in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and dream of the dot and the line, a kind of Morse Code that says, I’m still alive what about you?


“There is no snow pack. Only one year of water left.”
–Governor Jerry Brown of California

Sometimes the earth tells and retells her story.
Throws figurines, makes the doors stutter,
weathered wood flies apart like toothpicks.
We are not listening.
We live on the surface. It’s the only place.
I can see grooves
from the water’s former sluice, from the riot where
where the meadow confessed its obsession
for red. Somewhere, there are bright, unread pages of water
waiting, but here earth is speechless.

Only she knows how long it will take.
We can no longer save our money for a rainy day.
This year, jacarandas bloomed a whole month early.
They need to sleep to survive. Not awaken in the middle
of winter with a hot flash, quickened
with thirst. Sometimes, we think it’s about sacrifice.
Sometimes, we think it’s about power.
Just like we think we can call a halt to the infinity
wars which we believe are always ending.
Yet in the arpeggio dark we feel
lightning in our bones, hear a kind of thunder
on the road, the sheets are damp as if in dreams
we walked on wet leaves. In the morning,
we find mash notes that read
Yours, until we hurt each other again.

Excuse Me While We Pause

I am the last of my family.
I make my voyage out.

Vertigo comes to us all with her fireproof
hands and guilty verdict.

Forests burn continuously for weeks.
So, I sign petitions against things. I sign petitions for things.

Full of caffeine, I give money but it’s never enough.
Pluto and pennies have fallen from grace into a two-way mirror

facing an orchard of stars sliding behind other stars.
People sleep like bookmarks.

They wake up and begin again at the same place.
The future opens like a storm cloud, a black book.

Everyone looks for the motherlode of intel.
Now, they make an array of death instruments

in plastic that no longer vex the detectors.
Radioactivity becomes a kind of sonata.

I wait for the music. I know somewhere in this city
is a reservoir of grief–– it got into the water table

like fracking and its deadly chemicals. I take
my suitcase into the afterlife. It looks like a gigantic lobby.

There isn’t anything to unpack. The windows are
clairvoyant with the forever smell of fresh-cut lawns.

I am the last of my family. I make my voyage out.

© Cathy Colman

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